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Date set for trial of Australian military whistblower.



  • Registered Users Posts: 82,258 ✭✭✭✭Overheal

    Last time I checked, doing the right thing in a democratic country didn't mean being prosecuted.

    When was the last time you checked

    "The right thing" well a court can adjudicate what that is.

    Hardly the first time we've seen an intelligence leaker get in trouble for leaking data. That the data leaked is embarrassing for the government or even uncovers eg. war crimes, doesn't give the leaker inalienable rights to leak that and other data which can cause more disastrous or unforeseen consequences. Manning uncovered the July 12 2007 Baghdad airstrike video, but he also in the process leaked a ton of extraneous data (nevermind that he allegedly hacked into the systems he had no rightful access within the military to use with help from Assange/wikileaks who cracked passwords for him).

    Democracies stop becoming wholly democratic once they start adopting a national policy of state/military secrecy. By default in a case like this they'd consider the information secret more than likely because of the high chance of retaliation, either on australian forces in the middle east or retaliation through means of domestic terrorism.

    Regarding the alleged war crimes here I don't know about this particular case, but at least it seems their personal sacrifice to leak the information by breaking the state's secrecy laws bore some fruit for the result they wanted:

  • Registered Users Posts: 4,505 ✭✭✭political analyst

    What Manning did wasn't the same thing. The US helicopter crew in Baghdad mistook camera personnel on the ground for insurgents carrying RPGs.

  • Registered Users Posts: 40,291 ✭✭✭✭Gatling

    Snowden was nothing more than a common garden thief who then legged it to a foreign country crying about what America is doing while waving a Russian passport around,

    Now If he did that in Russia,he would have been thrown out of a window in a high rise building

  • Registered Users Posts: 82,258 ✭✭✭✭Overheal

    Russia isn't really what many would consider a democracy so that's moot a point.

  • Registered Users Posts: 4,505 ✭✭✭political analyst

    McBride pleaded guilty in November - the reasons are stated in this article.

    According to reports afterwards, he will be sentenced in March this year.

    As is stated in the following article, which I'm summarising, the case is becoming much better known to the consternation of those who thought it was a straightforward case of the persecution of a whistleblower.

    His motive for giving classified documents to journalists was his hope that his disclosure would support his position were being subjected to baseless investigations. The Australian Capital Territory's Supreme Court ruled that the fact that some journalists used the documents to publish what McBride described as the opposite of what he believed doesn't elevate the public interest at the time of the disclosure.

    Obviously, the Australian government prevented him from using information sensitive to national security for his defence. But the discussion that is the subject of the Crikey article is about his motivations. If he is to be judged on his motivations, that opens up a problematic area in whistleblowing. The Public Interest Disclosure Act (PIDA) has already been amended once to address a problem that emerged in the years after Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus introduced it under the previous Labor government (and one identified in Philip Moss’ 2016 review of the act): that most of the "disclosures" made under the act were workplace grievances rather than serious misconduct. Many people who, as "whistleblowers", talk to journalists and to politicians are parties in workplace disputes who feel aggrieved — rightly or wrongly — and believe their treatment is serious misconduct that requires investigation. 

    The reprisals that are ostensibly banned under PIDA, and which are the inevitable lot of whistleblowers still, have wrecked their lives, i.e. careers and relationships with spouses and families ruined. Their mixtures are rarely purely focused on the public interest in revealing "disclosable conduct". PIDA seeks to avoid this issue by focusing on the conduct revealed, not the motivations of the discloser. But as the McBride case demonstrates, once the concept of "public interest" is introduced, it potentially allows prosecutors to critically appraise the conduct and intention of the discloser and invite a court to conclude that their disclosure "does not elevate the public interest at the time of the disclosure".

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